20 Things Americans Find Utterly Absurd About the Rest of the World

America! Land of the free, home of the brave, and also a land of a diverse bunch, but there are some things out there that even the open-minded Americans might find a tad, well, peculiar.

One Redditor asked, “Americans of Reddit, what’s something the rest of the world does that you find absurd?” Thousands of users shared their thoughts, and we have compiled the perfect list for you!

1. Apartments

Stylish living room with wood flooring and modern interior
Image Credit: StudioDin/Shutterstock.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “When you rent an apartment in Germany, in most cases, it doesn’t come with light fixtures, kitchen cabinets and counters, appliances, etc. You either have to purchase and install these yourself or hope that the previous tenant is willing to sell theirs to you. In my last apartment search, there were even a few apartments where I would have had to supply and install my own flooring. It’s insane.”

Another replied, “Like, I can maybe understand the appliances. Not everywhere here; include them. But cabinets and counters are nuts.”

Do you want flooring? Install it. Cabinets? That’s a DIY project, too.

2. Window Screen

Woman is opening window to look at beautiful snowy landscape outside.
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Picture this: you’re in a foreign land, enjoying a lovely breeze. You open your window to invite in that fresh air, only to be swarmed by mosquitoes, flies, and all things creepy-crawly. Why? Because there are no window screens.

Someone commented, “I don’t know if it’s everywhere, but I noticed a conspicuous lack of screens in windows while I was in Europe. It’s so simple, and it prevents bugs. I was woken up by bugs in 4 separate European countries. Why?! You don’t need to live like that.”

Another added, “I always think, “My cats would get out and run away, never to be seen again.””

3. Pay Toilets

Entrance to a public toilet. Two doors to the public toilet for women and men. Indicative sign for toilet cubicles for men and women.
Image Credit: Galina-Photo/Shutterstock.

Nature calls, and you rush into a public restroom. You’re ready to do your business, and then you see it – a turnstile with a coin slot.

A Reddit user wrote, “Pay toilets. A very efficient way to encourage public urination.”

Another replied, “In Germany, public toilets are plentiful and clean. In the UK, they’re rare and dirty. I’m happy to pay 50¢ for a clean and nearby public toilet.”

4. Beverages

Studio portrait of surprised student female in grey singlet over blue background drinking organic mint water looking at camera with excitement.
Image Credit: UfaBizPhoto/Shutterstock.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “I’m addressing Europe, and I guess probably Belgium specifically because that’s where I encountered this the most. Y’all are unnecessarily stingy with the beverages at restaurants.”

Someone else added, “Like, for real, you stop somewhere for dinner, and the server comes by and asks if you want to water. After the awkward exchange about whether you want “sparkling or steel,” they come back roughly 30 minutes later with something the size of a toddler’s sippy cup with water in it.”

We just want a decent drink; is that too much to ask?

5. No AC

Mother At Home With Son Adjusting Smart Central Heating Thermostat
Image Credit: monkeybusiness via DepositPhotos.com.

There is no AC in shops, restaurants, or even public transportation. We find ourselves melting into puddles, wondering how people survive without the sweet relief of cool, conditioned air.

Someone commented, “How are yall living without AC? France had a heatwave kill 15,000 in 2003, so some of them clearly aren’t.”

Another replied, “Here in the Netherlands, people believe airconditioning is some exotic irresponsible luxury. On hot days, the weatherman will announce “well people, it’s going to be another sticky night tonight!”. The worst thing is that they don’t have AC in care homes for the elderly so there are heat-related deaths during hot summers and everybody seems to just accept that.”

6. Toilet Paper in Trash Cans!

Man with roll of toilet paper in WC, closeup
Image Credit: serezniy via DepositPhotos.com.

One said, “Not “the rest,” but some countries throw toilet paper in the trash can, which is horrifying.”

Another user explained, “That’s because bins of used toilet paper are less horrifying than the plumbing that is non-functional because it’s ancient and can’t handle the bundles of two-ply that people try to flush. Don’t get me wrong, it’s disgusting. But the reason for it is a very valid one. They don’t not flush it just for fun.”

Who wants a garbage can full of used tissue just hanging out in the bathroom? It’s a head-scratcher for the Americans.

7. Racism

Group of students humiliating young muslim woman
Image Credit: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV/Shutterstock.

Okay, can we talk about the big, ugly elephant in the room? Racism is everywhere, but some places don’t even try to hide it.

Someone commented, “Specific to Europeans, but y’all have no business judging Americans for our issues with racism given how y’all talk about and treat the Romani.”

Another added, “As a racial minority European, we also have the regular racism here too. I think Americans are just more open about talking about it (which, personally I’m all for). A lot of racism here gets dismissed because it’s less overt. And causes this cycle of people unaffected by it don’t notice it.”

8. Diversity

Happy multi ethnic elementary kids playing basketball in school courtyard.
Image Credit: GagliardiPhotography/Shutterstock.

Oh boy, this one is a classic. You tell someone you’re American, and suddenly, they think they’ve got you all figured out. They assume you love fast food, don’t own a passport, and probably can’t find their country on a map.

One said, “The assumption that all Americans are similar instead of a diverse group with a vast variety of backgrounds and beliefs.”

Someone else added, “I’ve traveled the world and lived in 3 countries besides the US. This is generally true, especially of people who’ve never visited the US (and some who have). Many I’ve talked to make an assumption that the US is monolithic in culture, values, etc.”

9. Culture

Happy young woman holding American flag.
Image Credit: TierneyMJ/Shutterstock.

Ah, the granddaddy of misconceptions. Some people out there genuinely believe that Americans don’t have a culture worth mentioning.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “Criticizing Americans’ lack of “culture,” all the while wearing American style clothes, listening to American music, watching American movies/tv shows, following American politics and basically copying American popular culture at every turn.”

Another replied, “American culture has been exported so widely for so long that I think people forget the cultural goods they’re consuming are even American in origin.

The biggest films are American-made. Most of the biggest musical artists are Americans, or at least launched their careers in America. Major clothing brands like Nike, major restaurant chains like McDonald’s, major beverage brands like Coca-Cola, major consumer electronics like iPhones, all American. It’s crazy to think about.”

10. Milk

woman drinking glass of milk.
Image Credit: Vitalii Krokhmaliuk/Shutterstock.

You stroll into a store, expecting to see milk snugly packed in cartons, and instead, it’s in bags! Bags!

Someone commented, “Milk in a bag, not a box.”

Someone else added, “My understanding is that it was primarily devised by American companies as a cheaper option for changing their packaging for the milk they sold in Canada to adhere to the new labeling laws when Canada switched to Metric. Canadian companies switched for some of the same reasons- cheaper to manufacture was the main factor.”

11. Media-stereotypes

Old Man in a hat as a cowboy.
Image Credit: Thomas Mucha/Shutterstock.

Ah, the good old American stereotype. We’ve all seen it in movies and TV shows – they’re all either cowboys, cheerleaders, or secret agents.

One said, “Believing media stereotypes about the USA without ever having been here.”

A Reddit user wrote, “Ahh, takes me back to when I taught in Austria, and the students asked me how often gay people got executed. Beautiful country, beautiful people, but did they hate America.”

12. Sundays

Portrait of a confused bearded man holding hands on his head isolated over yellow background.
Image Credit: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock.

Now, this one’s a head-scratcher. You wake up on a Sunday, ready to conquer the world, and then you realize the stores are closed.

Someone commented, “When I lived in Norway, finding out nearly every store closed all day on Sundays was crazy.”

Another replied, “It’s an adjustment, but I could be down with everything being closed on Sundays. Makes sure everyone has atleast one day off and gets a chance to relax with family and friends.”

13. Pizza Toppings

Funny brunette girl in yellow sweater eating pizza at restaurant..
Image Credit: AS photo family/Shutterstock.

Imagine ordering a pizza and finding corn and tuna staring back at you. Corn on a pizza? Or Tuna fish swimming around your cheese? That’s a weird combo, right?

A Reddit user wrote, “They put CORN on pizza, ew. “American Food” things other countries do are just horrible.”

Another added, “I’m American but immigrated to Scotland. They have corn and TUNA on pizza here. It’s a crime against humanity.”

14. Smoking

Photo of young girl disgusted dislike bad smell negative
Image Credit: deagreez1 via DepositPhotos.com.

Okay, seriously, it’s 2023, people! Yet, in some corners of the world, smoking is as common as breathing air. You walk down the street, and suddenly you’re enveloped in a cloud of smoke.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “That smoking is still so common. This goes for Europe, Asia, and South America. Probably other places, too. I know we in the US have since started embracing vaping, which is its own problem, but at least we made cigarettes uncool.”

Someone else added, “The rest of the world is dealing with both in huge numbers. There were a few glorious years in the US before vaping, but after, cigarettes were uncool, and almost no one smoked. That was amazing.”

15. Soccer Fans

Portrait of a pretty smiling girl with bright red lips wearing modern sports clothes. College style. Hipster girl by a brick wall. Youth fashion.
Image Credit: Kiselev Andrey Valerevich/Shutterstock.

Now, we love our sports, right? But when it comes to soccer, some countries take fandom to a whole new level. We’re talking painted faces, chanting like there’s no tomorrow, and grown adults weeping openly when their team loses.

One said, “Soccer. Not the game, but how insane the fans are.”

Another replied, “One of my favorite football (soccer) factoids as of late is that Liverpool picked up an Egyptian Muslim soccer player named Mohammed Salah. He’s so good at the game that it led to a 16% reduction in hate crimes in the city and cleaned up some of their fan’s online behavior.”

16. Shopping

woman with shopping bags outdoors.
Image Credit: ALPA PROD/Shutterstock.

Someone commented, “This may be because of my proximity to New York City, but Tourists from around the world come to our big cities and spend a huge chunk of their time and money shopping at Macy’s, Target, and Sephora. Not all, obviously, but a lot…

EDIT: I understand the idea of shopping for the novelty of it. I do that, too. That’s not my point. The keywords above are “huge chunk.” Like, people fly several hours across an ocean to come here, and some spend the vast bulk of their time buying stuff that’s mass produced in factories and available in 3,000 locations nationwide.”

A Reddit user wrote, “Although I was aware of the gap between the US and other countries in terms of price, selection, and availability… holy moly, I didn’t realize it was such a major driver of tourist commerce.”

Who knew that shopping bags could become a cultural exchange program?

17. Greetings

Girl Rejecting To Kiss Guy On Unsuccessful Date Walking Outside
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Ah, the awkward dance of the cheek kiss. In some parts of the world, it’s one, two, or even three kisses on the cheek for a greeting.

One said, “The cheek kiss thing for greeting eww”

Another added, “As a French person, I used to do it as well because I was “forced to,” but thanks to COVID, people began doing it less.”

18. Judicial Wigs

Grumpy old judge in extreme wide angle closeup with hammer and wig.
Image Credit: Anneka/Shutterstock.

Picture this: you’re in a courtroom, and the judge is wearing a wig that looks like it came straight out of a costume party. It’s like a throwback to colonial times, where powdered wigs were the height of fashion.

Someone commented, “The wig-wearing in court thing.”

Another replied, “I can’t help but giggle when I see a British legal drama. Can’t take those guys seriously.”

19. Americans

Attractive Caucasian woman wearing glasses and a swimsuit holding a USA flag while walking near the beach in sunny weather.
Image Credit: ORION PRODUCTION/Shutterstock.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “Complaining that we call ourselves American. It is literally in the name of our country.”

Someone else added, “I’m an American living in Switzerland and get this a lot too. Maybe it’s a German language thing as well as a Spanish one.”

Do you think it’s absurd to complain about the nationality of Americans?

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